Walks FAQs

COMMON QUESTIONS

Wild Walks

How big are the groups on your Wild Walks hiking tours?

The maximum group size for all our scheduled Wild Walk hiking tours is one guide with 5 clients. We write this 1:5.   Typically our average group size is 3-4 people although all our trips have guaranteed departures for just 2 people.   

However, we often cater for larger private groups and have operated hiking adventures in the NZ Southern Alps for groups of 10+ people.   Please contact us if you would like to organise a spectacular hiking adventure for your group.


 

Wild Walks

How hard are Wild Walk trips? Am I fit enough?

All our Wild Walks are physically demanding though our small group size means that you can go at your own pace. The fitter you are, the more you will achieve, and the more you will be able to enjoy the experience. Some experience walking on rough terrain is also the key, the better you are at this, the more efficiently you can travel, and the less energy you will expend.

All Wild Walks will have some degree of up and downhill, but on those that cross alpine passes (such as Gillespie and Rabbit Pass), you can expect steep sections of around 500m vertically up and down. The advantage of these trips is that, due to the stocked camps, your pack weight will be light. On our more remote Wild Walks without serviced huts or campsites you will be carrying food and overnight equipment, so specific training with heavier loads (around 15 Kg) will help.

Wild Walks

How heavy is my pack for a Wild Walk trip?

You will only need to carry your own personal clothing and gear: no tents, food or cooking supplies. Check the equipment and clothing required on the specific trip page as this varies for each trip. There will also be an indication of your pack weight.

Wild Walks

What makes the Gillespie-Rabbit Pass Wild Walk NZ's hardest guided hike?

Basically it's the combination of 3 factors which make this guided hike so challenging.

  1. Length of trip.   Quite simply - 8 days is a long time to sustain the level of physical exertion required for this trip.   You need to have excellent endurance (both physical & mental) to perform well on this trek.
  2. Terrain.   The tracks are rough and unformed with washouts, boulders and tree roots to negotiate.  In many places you will be using your hands to negotiate slippery or steep climbs.  Rivers are for the most part unbridged, and numerous crossings are required.
  3. Discomfort levels.  There are no "huts with hairdryers" on this trip.  Your shower is the crystal clear waters of the lakes & streams you will pass.  Accommodation is shared bunk style backcountry hut with no lights or running water & long drop toilets or small camping tents and sleeping mats.  Your boots will be wet from multiple river crossings.

But the Reward?

  • Access to some of NZ's most remote and spectacular backcountry terrain.  Unlike the NZ "Great Walks"   - this is not a trip you will feel you could have done yourself!
  • Experiencing true NZ wilderness. On most trips you will have days where you will not see another person.
  • Pushing your endurance to new levels but with the safety & re-assurance of experienced hiking guides to cross rivers & to negotiate steep & exposed terrain
  • Meeting other enthusiastic people who love the wilderness as much as you do.
  • Enjoying a well deserved beverage with us on our office deck overlooking Lake Wanaka at the end of the trip!

Wild Walks

What do you mean by rough and unformed tracks?

Rough and unformed tracks can be created simply by infrequent foot traffic and have not been improved, like many Great Walk tracks, to make the going easier. Even on our easier Wild Walks there may be streams to cross (resulting in wet boots), tree roots, slips and washouts, fallen trees or steeper track sections to negotiate.

On our more demanding treks (such as Rabbit Pass and the Adelaide Cirque) there may not be any evidence that people have travelled through previously as you make your way through tussock and scrub and over loose rock scree. Sometimes there is significant exposure to falling and hikers need to be good on their feet to use small footholds and ledges. On steeper sections you will be using your hands. On these challenging treks, the route can also follow features rather than a track such as wet or dry river beds where there will be slippery sections and boulders of all sizes to negotiate.  Rivers are for the most part unbridged, and numerous crossings may be required.Travelling on foot on rough terrain requires a lot of concentration, can be tiring and slow going. Despite a modest distance, the journey can take some time, but it is ultimately rewarding!

Wild Walks

How long do the trips last?

Anything from 1 to 20 days.

We can offer our guiding services for just a day of climbing or hiking right through to a multi-week mountaineering or hiking expedition.  We have a range of local Wanaka day trips, but also offer multi-day International Expeditions in Peru, Norway and Italy. 

In NZ most of our climbing & hiking trips are typically 3 to 12 days. See our website for a comprehensive list of trips available, or contact us with your specific requirements.

Wild Walks

I am travelling on my own. Can I still book as a single?

Most of our mountaineering ascents are conducted on a 1:1 basis, so no problem there.

For all other group climbing, skiing or WildWalks hiking trips, we have a 2 person minimum number to operate a trip.   If you are travelling on your own, try to organise your itinerary to match up with the dates scheduled for the course or trip listed on our website.  

If you can't join a trip on our scheduled dates: then you have two options:-

  1. Book a private 1:1 trip for any dates you wish or 
  2. We can book you as a single and we will try to match others to your dates. If we cannot find at least one other person for the dates you want, one month before the start date we will give you a full refund or offer you an alternative trip 1:1 for a fewer number of days. 

Wild Walks

What do we eat? I have a special diet, is this OK?

One thing we hear every trip is "the food was great! I never knew it was possible to eat so well on a climbing/ skiing/ hiking trip".  We put a lot of work into supplying you with wholesome meals with a variety of healthy and tasty ingredients and snacks catering to common preferences.  

Where possible, we provide fresh vegetables and real coffee. However, there will always be limitations when cooking in an alpine or wilderness environment.  Meals like salads are limited or not possible to provide. Some trips/ courses are not recommended for people with very restrictive or complex dietary requirements.  If you do have a restrictive eating regime we ask that you disclose this to us at the time of booking and we may ask you to provide us with an advance copy of what you would typically eat on a wilderness trip.

For highly specialised diets requiring special food purchases - we may ask that you attend our offices on the day before your trip is due to commence.  If you are joining a scheduled group that doesn't have food requirements, we may ask you to shop & pay for some of your preferred dietary requirements.   You will also be required to carry this food and your guide may ask you to assist in the preparation of any separate meals required for you individually.   

Wild Walks

What equipment do I need for a trip?

At the end of every trip description on our website, we provide detailed information about the equipment required for the trip. Typically this includes a checklist which you can use to "tick off" your gear, a document giving more detailed explanations as well as some of our best "guide tips" and a video to visually explain some of the terminology.

For our climbing and skiing trips we have 3 categories of equipment:-

  • Compulsory items - this is equipment you must have with you. You can either purchase or hire depending on the item.
  • Trip Dependent - these are items that maybe needed but will depend on the venue for the trip and prevailing conditions.  Most times this cannot be decided ahead of time.   Our best advice is that if you already own the items listed in the trip dependent section & you can fit in your pack then bring them along.   Things like your own rock shoes and snow goggles are good things to bring - but disposable eating utensils can easily be obtained in Wanaka.
  • Optional - these are items which you can choose to bring or leave behind. But we think you should at least bring your camera!!   Your trip will to some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet!!   
 

Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the suitability of equipment to avoid purchasing or carrying unncecessary equipment.

Wild Walks

Where do we meet you for our Wild Walk?

Our offices are located at 58 McDougall St, Wanaka.  We are a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of town. Here's a google map of our office location.

Unless otherwise instructed, your guide will meet you at 4.30pm  the day before the start of your Wild Walk.  If you need pick-up from your accommodation, please let us know.    At this meeting your clothing and equipment will be checked and final details of your trip discussed. There will be time for last minute gear purchases if required.

 

WHAT IF's

Wild Walks

What about insurance for our WildWalks trip?

Good travel insurance is essential. In addition to medical/accident cover we highly recommend purchasing travel cancellation insurance. In some instances, our clients have injured themselves in totally unrelated accidents or had a family emergency which has meant that they have had to cancel their trips at short notice. Unfortunately we were unable to resell their places and had to insist on our cancellation policy. A bad situation for everyone! But it’s also one that can be avoided with relatively cheap travel insurance. You may have your own preferred travel insurer. If not, here are some suggestions.
We do not recommend any company over any other.

Wild Walks

What if I don't fit in with the group ability or otherwise?

This tends to be one of the major concerns of clients going on group trips. However, in our experience, it is very rarely a problem. Due to our small group size we largely avoid compatibility issues.

However, almost all of the trips we are offer are physically demanding.  It is very important  that you are realistic in the self-assessment of your skills and experience.    If you are not familiar with the NZ mountain and wilderness environment it is hard for you to judge how you will go.   However, our Chief Guide and all our guides are widely travelled and can give a good assessment before you join a trip whether your experience in other countries will work well for NZ conditions. 

If you are joining a group, tolerance is an important personal quality.  Tiredness from lack of fitness or sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can take its toll over a long trip.  But it is important to remember that while you might be the fastest, you might be the weakest at tying into your harness, crossing a river or making turns in deep powder snow.  Inevitably every person on a group trip will have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.    An upbeat temperament & accepting attitude go a long way in the mountains.

If you are really concerned about your compatibility with others and you have not done many group trips then we are happy to offer private options on request.

Wild Walks

What if someone is injured?

Obviously every situation is different.  But in the case of a serious accident the guide will notify our base and a rescue will be started, usually by helicopter. Injuries are covered by the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).  ACC pays for the majority of costs incurred in evacuation and treatment of injured people. They do not cover you in case of illness. For more information concerning what ACC covers click here. We recommend that you have travel insurance that will cover you if you need to be repatriated to your home country.

Wild Walks

What if the weather is bad for my trip? Do I have to pay?

New Zealand is famous for its changeable weather. The mountains here are characterized by long sunny fine periods mixed with sudden and sometimes heavy rain or snow. Our experienced guides are well equipped to provide the best possible trip and have many years experience in judging the conditions.

Travel in bad weather is an art in itself. By using Aspiring Guides you give yourself the best chance of success dealing with whatever the weather may throw at you. For a few of our  Wild Walks we do offer a bonus one day weather contingency. Check the trip webpage to see if this applies.

Extreme conditions - flooding, unseasonal snowfalls, icy & windy conditions can all affect whether it is safe to cross a river or high mountain pass such as Gillespie and/or Rabbit Pass. With over 10 years guiding on the Wild Walks hiking routes, your guides are trained to make these determinations.

On the Rabbit Pass route in particular, if your guide determines that it is not safe to cross, an alternative hiking route will be utilised and all costs relating to a jetboat exit from the mountains are included.   Should the group wish to use a helicopter to exit the mountains a surcharge  is payable.

If the weather forecast is so adverse that your guide does not recommend commencing the trip as originally planned, we will offer an alternative hiking trip which is not as severely affected by weather conditions.  There are many options for excellent alternative trips accessible from Wanaka.    If any trip costs (like air or jetboat access) have not been utilised in this alternative trip they will be refunded. 

It is important that you have read and understood our booking terms and conditions. Once a trip begins there are no refunds.

ACCOMMODATION

Wild Walks

Where do we stay when we are on the trip?

Depending on the trip we use a mixture of camping and mountain huts.  

Mountain & DOC Huts
For climbing and WildWalks trips the huts are public and administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC).  They provide open plan bunk sleeping & "long drop"/ composting toilet facilities. There is a communal cooking area and tank water supply. Most high alpine huts have eating utensils but no other cooking facilities and we provide stoves & fuel.  There is no plumbing or electricity and no shower or separate bathroom facilities.  No high alpine huts have heating.  It is not possible to reserve bunk space in these public huts.

Ski Touring Huts
Aspiring Guides has a number of small basic huts which are reserved for their private use. The huts are very small as they are transported by helicopter to their location and have simple bunk style sleeping, but no indoor toilet or shower facilites.  They also do not have heating.

Camping
Camping is generally in 2 or 3 man tents with sleeping on a thermarest or closed cell foam pads. For Wild Walks trips, we have some pre-placed camps which also have a communal cook tent.

Alternative accommodation out of the mountains
If your trip comes out of the mountains early (typically due to weather issues), we will provide similar shared bunk & bathroom style accommodation until the trip finishes. You may choose to stay elsewhere if you wish, but you will be responsible for settling your account directly with your chosen accommodation and we will refund an amount to the nightly charge for use hut or camping as if you had stayed in the mountains.

Wild Walks

Where is a good place stay before and after the trip?

Even though Wanaka is small it has excellent accommodation options for all tastes. We recommend the Wanaka Hotel for good value traditional hotel style accommodation right in the town centre. But there are also many other places that may suit your tastes and budget.   If you'd like us to make a booking for you please let us know.

Click here for a list of accommodation, and click here for map of Wanaka.

Unless you will have your own transport - we don't recommend staying at accommodation further than walking distance to our office. There are no local bus services.   We can provide a pick up & drop off service if you book this in advance but for any accommodation properties located more than 5km from the town centre there will be a $20 per trip fee (up to 5 people).

TRANSPORT AND TRAVEL INFORMATION

Wild Walks

Can I leave my extra bags and valuables with you while we are in the hills?

Yes, no problem.  We have storage for anything you aren't taking on your trip.  There's no electricity, internet or phone connection available on any of our trips - so it's best to leave most of your electronic gear with us for the duration of your trip.

Wild Walks

Can I rent a car in Wanaka?

You can rent a car in Wanaka but there is no facility for dropping it off in another town or city. To do this the vehicle must be rented in either Queenstown or a larger city such as Christchurch.

Wild Walks

Do I need a car?

No. Most people use shuttle bus transport or a taxi service from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka.  If you stay in accommodation in central Wanaka then you will not need to rent a car. Most cafes, restaurants and activities are within easy walking distance.

Wild Walks

How do I get to Wanaka?

The closest airport to us is in Queenstown.  There are regular shuttles between Wanaka and Queenstown airport (one hour drive).  For shuttle and taxi information:

Queenstown -Wanaka
Ritchies Connectabus
Yello Taxi Service
KT Sightseeing Taxi Service

Christchurch - Wanaka
InterCity Coachlines

 

Wild Walks

What do I need to bring for clothing and equipment?

On most trips all you need is your personal clothing and a good pair of hiking boots. On each trip page you find information on what is needed for that trip. We can usually supply everything you need in the way of sleeping bags and back packs if you are trying to keep the weight down for your international flights.

Wild Walks

Where can I leave my car?

While free long term parking is available in Wanaka, we cannot provide off-street secure parking for your vehicle while you are on a trip. You should ensure that any valuables are stored with us in our office.   If you are returning to the same Wanaka accommodation after your trip it is often worth asking if they are happy for you to leave your vehicle with them. 

Wild Walks

Where is the Aspiring Guides located?

Aspiring Guides is based from the small & scenically beautiful town of Wanaka. Situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka, on the South Island of New Zealand, Wanaka is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park - a World Heritage Area.

Wanaka is a 1 hour drive from Queenstown (which has an international airport for flights from Australia), 5 hours from Christchurch (with an international airport) and 3 hours from Dunedin. Wanaka has ample accommodation to suit all budget types and a wide range of outdoor sports stores necessary to equip you for a mountaineering, skiing or hiking trip with us. 

We are located at 58 McDougall St, Wanaka, a short 10-15 minute walk from the centre of town.

 

BOOKING

Wild Walks

How do I book a trip? How do I know if the dates I want are available?

You can book directly through our website using our online booking form.

Please make sure you include details of the trip you want to book and the dates that you prefer.

Provided that we have minimum numbers (ie., generally 2 persons) we will run all trips listed on our website.  If you have dates that don't match our scheduled dates or you want to check whether a particular trip or course is running - please contact us

 

We cannot confirm your place on any scheduled group trip or your guide for any 1:1 trip until we receive your payment of a NZ$500 deposit.  The balance of the trip price is due 60 days before the start of your trip.  If you are booking within 60 days of the trip start date then the full trip price is payable to confirm your booking. 

All bookings are subject to the our company Terms & Conditions relating to cancellation & liability issues.  Please make sure your read our Terms & Conditions carefully before booking your trip with us as you will be asked to confirm that you have read and agreed to them before your booking is finalised with us. 

Wild Walks

How do I pay?

We offer a number of different options for you to make payment for your trip:-

  • Web-based Foreign Exchange Dealers
  • Bank Transfer - NZ Domestic & International
  • Credit Card - Visa, Mastercard only (2% fees apply)

Click here for a full list of payment options and details.

Wild Walks

How much do trips cost?

See each individual trip descriptions for any trip or courses. All prices are in New Zealand Dollars and include the government 15% Goods & Services Tax (GST).
There is a currency converter on all trip pages to give you an estimate of the trip price in your own currency.

Wild Walks

What happens after I pay my deposit?

Your deposit confirms your trip. We then respond by emailing you a booking confirmation.  

Your trip balance is due 60 days before your trip commences. We will contact you to arrange final payment.

Approximately 4 weeks before we are due to meet you we contact you again to give final trip details. This email will also prompt you for any outstanding paperwork and ask you for a copy of your equipment list, your travel information, and accommodation booking here in Wanaka, etc.

Wild Walks

What is included in the price?

Generally the price includes your qualified and friendly guide, all meals and snacks, park fees, hut fees, communications with Aspiring Guides Operations base and 15% Goods and Services Tax. Most technical equipment is included but transport costs like vehicle, jetboat, helicopter and/or air plane costs are not always included and vary with individual trips. See each individual trip description to see what is included or excluded from the price.

Wild Walks

What time of year do Wild Walks trips run?

Wild Walks - Hiking

We can provide hiking trips almost year round in New Zealand. 

Our Summer Wild Walks Hiking season is from November to April each year.   
In Winter - our snowshoe and glacier hiking trips run from July - November each year.

We generally do not schedule group hiking trips in May & June.  This is typically due to the lack of daylight hours and low demand for trips in these months.  However, if you have a private group and wish to hike during these months - please contact us with your requirements.

"It was such an incredible experience, I felt so proud to have made it over both passes and it has certainly boosted my enthusiasm to get out into the wilderness more regularly. Stunning scenery.
I've told so many friends about Aspiring Guides and specifically the walk we did."

 

Cat Owen, Australia

"Off the beaten track trips appeal to me. Loved the impressive views all the way along. Bivying out.  Accessing an area that few people get to see. Being away from crowded tracks. Oh...and the tomato relish :0)))) I'm delighted to have had an enjoyable trip in and out of this hidden gem."

Michelle, New Zealand, Feb 2017

"We were very confident that Aspiring Guides would give us the small group experience we were looking for. I loved the Valley walking and the experience of the other people on the trip  I also loved how beautiful the scenery was, just so unlike what we get in Australia. It was stunning.  I was so impressed by Michael as our guide. He actually made the trip for me. While relatively young in years, his experience really shone and the way he dealt with people of differing ages and experiences was just so impressive. I learned a lot from him over the few days.My overall impression of Aspiring Guides from this particular trip was that it's a very professionally run organisation and you guys know what you're doing. It must get exhausting trying to make everyone's experience special and unique when you've done a trip so many times - but you guys do an excellent job of this and I felt very grateful. I survived and am looking forward to my next hike :)"

Jess, Australia

The impression given of the level of difficulty was very accurate. It was just right for me - sometimes demanding but not exhausting. The precautions on the potentially dangerous areas were absolutely great - I never felt at risk. George was very hands-off at other times but we were experienced walkers, so I think he judged it pretty well. I'd highly recommended this Wild Walk to anyone who's after a spectacular walk and fit enough to do it. The best tramp in NZ? Would do it again in a heartbeat. Superbly organised with the food and gear stashes. 

Philip, Australia - Gillespie-Rabbit 2017

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